Cansdell defends sock allowance

A PLAN by North Coast Area Health Service to cut nurses’ $1.60 per fortnight sock allowance has reached the halls of state Parliament and NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt.

Clarence MP Steve Cansdell made a private member’s statement about the controversial proposal last Friday citing David Bancroft’s October 21 editorial and the front page story in the October 20 Daily Examiner.

Here is an excerpt of what Mr Cansdell said.

“... although the allowance amounts to only $1 a week, nurses are offended because it totally undervalues their work and the respect that the government should have for nurses who are basically keeping our health system going.

“The editorial in yesterday’s Daily Examiner by a former Labor Minister’s senior staffer, David Bancroft, stated: ... it only amounts to about a dollar a week and, apart from pensioners and those on Centrelink allowances, very few would miss that.

But unless there are things not immediately apparent, it would seem to show NSW Health has such a shortage of cash it will do everything it can to screw down every available dollar …

“... the government’s proposal came as a shock to nurses, especially as they have just started a campaign to mandate nurse to patient ratios.

“It is a fairly ordinary move by North Coast Area Health Service not so much to remove the allowance but to make it not compulsory for nurses to wear socks with closed-in shoes.

“I suppose that is why the headline in The Daily Examiner on Wednesday, October 20 read ‘Nurses’ socks cause a stink’.

“The stink comes back to the New South Wales Government for being so stingy as to cut a lousy $1 a week from nurses’ pay packets for an allowance that enables them to wear socks as part of their uniform.

“In 2009 I made a private member’s statement about the North Coast Area Health Service trying to save money by removing security and cleaning services from Maclean District Hospital.

“Members will remember back to 1994 when 20-year-old Sandra Hoare, a nurse from Walgett, was brutally raped and murdered because there was no security at the hospital at the time.

“Because of that, almost every hospital in New South Wales then had some form of security to ensure that the nursing staff were safe.

“But in a cost-cutting measure, the security and cleaning staff at Maclean hospital were basically wiped out.

“It is a fairly ordinary measure when the Government cuts $1 a week from nurses’ pay packets just to save dollars while at the same time it is employing a $200,000 a year spin doctor to let everyone know that everything is going well.

“Members of the nurses union and other unions throughout New South Wales will vote against the government on March 26 next year, when, hopefully, common sense will prevail and the new government will support nurses and give them the respect they deserve.”

Since the articles by The Daily Examiner and Mr Cansdell’s speech, the North Coast Area Health Service has announced the decision to cut the sock allowance has been put on hold.

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